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Today’s reading falls on the second final Sunday of our liturgical calendar. Taken once again from Mark’s Gospel, it reveals the importance of recognizing needs and setting expectations for ourselves as Christians.

Jesus begins by telling his disciples about the coming of the Son of Man, and thus, the end of time. He tells them that signs will appear to signify its coming. To further explain, Jesus shares the parable of the fig tree.

Jesus says, “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.”

The goal of Jesus’ words is not to scare his disciples. Instead they impart the importance of observing the world around us and accepting challenge and change as a natural part of life.

At CMMB, when we observe the world around us we see great need. We see the challenges that under-resourced communities face and accept them as an opportunity to change the world for the better. To embrace that opportunity is an expectation we set for ourselves in our work.

The previous maternity ward at St. Therese Hospital in Nzara, South Sudan.

Old maternity ward at St. Therese Hospital

Take our service in South Sudan as an example. In this young country, 789 mothers die in every 100,000 live births – one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. At the same time, it sits in the bottom ten globally for under-five mortality.

These are among the many country-wide challenges that are mirrored in the rural community of Nzara, South Sudan and the place where we serve. This reality compelled us to build a new maternity ward at St. Therese Hospital. Prior to its existence, mothers had few options for safe delivery and limited access to emergency resources.

Today, that reality is changing for expecting mothers and newborn babies in Nzara. We will conclude today’s reflection with an excerpt from our recent blog post that chronicles the change taking place thanks to the resources at the new ward. If you’re interested in learning more, we invite you to do so by clicking HERE.

CMMB staff have been delighted to see the number of safe in-facility deliveries rise in Nzara County and the corresponding increase in women and children receiving life-saving post-partum care. The dedication of St. Therese hospital staff and the organizations that came together to ensure the completion of the maternity wing strengthens our faith that it is possible to deliver the quality healthcare mothers and babies deserve in South Sudan. Hospitals, like St. Therese, provide hope for South Sudan to reduce its neonatal and maternal mortality rates, which have been too high for too long.

In grace and peace,


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*Portions of today’s reflection were adapted from and inspired by the Loyola Press Sunday Connection.